Top 8 agritourism experiences

Our favorite ways to experience the romance of the small farm (and pick up new skills), from now into harvest season

HoneyLove
Photo: Jennifer Martiné

UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM

Nettles Farm, Lummi Island, WA. At Nettles Farm, hen-butchering classes give you a new perspective on dinner. The Butchery class phenomenon speaks to something undeniable in the West: a growing desire to see where our food comes from. On this island haven, owner Riley Starks’s hen-butchering class teaches participants how to process chickens (“process” is a delicate word for slaughter and clean). Starks got the idea for the class because many people weren’t sure what to do when their backyard hens were done laying. On farms, the most practical thing is, well, to eat them. $100; Aug 25 or Sep 1; 360/758-7616.  

Count your chickens:

  • 2: Butchered hens each guest brings home
  • 100: Cost of class
  • 25: Stewing hens prepared each class
  • 8: People in each class
  • 200: Laying hens the farm raises a year
  • 25: Weeks until a hen starts laying eggs

SHARPEN YOUR DIY SKILLS

Head straight to the source––the farmers themselves.

Learn to be a winemaker. Matthew Erlandson, the winemaker at Fjellene Cellars (pronounced fuh-lay-nah) in Walla Walla, Washington, talks to us about his Vines to Wines program. Launching this fall, it lets grape lovers cultivate their own case of wine over the course of four visits to Washington’s most famous vineyard country. $700/4 days, including lunch and a case of wine; fjellenecellars.com  

  • What will people learn in Vines to Wines? We detail the winemaking process from beginning to end, but also focus on vineyard management. I’ve invited geologists and soil specialists to talk about soil quality—here, it has a chalky minerality that gets reflected in the wines. People will get to take their own case home at the end, so they can taste how the wine changes over time.
  • What’s the coolest thing people will get to do in your classes? Harvest. From sampling fruit to checking its pH and Brix levels to squishing it between your fingers, bringing in the grapes that will be made into wine is really special.
  • When is the best time to book a winemaking visit? End of September through October. Fruit is ripening, so there’s the whole romance thing, with the green vines and the purple fruit.

Take a beekeeping class. Chelsea and Rob McFarland run the bee-conservation nonprofit HoneyLove from their home in Los Angeles, where they work to reform the city’s residential beekeeping laws. On the second Saturday of every month, they hold beginner-friendly workshops where you can learn about the best plants for pollinators and how to make honey from fresh honeycombs. Free; honeylove.org

Go to goat cheese college. Drop-in-for-an-afternoon cheese classes are a dime a dozen at local creameries. But for a real immersion course, try the Amaltheia Organic Dairy program offered by Rainbow Ranch Lodge, near Big Sky, Montana. You’ll learn the basics of pasteurization and how to use cheese molds, and see what it’s like to run a 430-goat farm that provides all the milk for the 2,000 pounds of cheese made each week. Classes are held on Wednesdays in September and October. $730/couple for class, tour, wine, cheese, and 2-night stay; rainbowranchbigsky.com

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